Business

Looking back and looking ahead: Tacoma-born Selden’s turns 75

First generation — that’s Sydney Selden, who founded the store.

Second generation — that’s Stan Selden, retired for a decade and now the chairman and paterfamilias.

Third Generation — that’s owners Loni Selden-Cross, vice president, and her brother Scott Selden, president and CEO.

Fourth generation — that’s Jacob Cross, store manager, and Lindsey Selden, who works in marketing.

Added together they represent the 75 years of Selden’s Designer Home Furnishings, founded in downtown Tacoma and located variously in Lakewood, University Place and most recently Fife.

Stan started at age eight stacking paint cans, and joined full-time following service in the U.S. Coast Guard.

“I was lucky,” he said recently in the company board room. “I had a son and daughter who grew up in the business. I’ve just tried to fade away.”

At the height of the retail furniture business in Tacoma, he said, there were some 50 furniture stores in the area.

Today, said Scott, count maybe a dozen.

“We were one of the first in the country to set up in room settings, with accessories,” said Stan.

He once tried decorating a setting with empty wine bottles, “and people didn’t like it,” he said. The same happened when he decided to open on Sundays.

“We got angry phone calls,” he said.

“We’ve changed with the times,” said Loni.

“We tried to stay ahead of the competition by extending services,” said Scott, as he described in-home delivery, designer assistance and “standing by the customer.”

“We have had a commitment to provide higher-end products even in the bad times,” he said. “The price is long forgotten if the quality is there.”

It’s not that 75 years have been without challenges.

“We stayed too long expecting retail to return downtown,” Scott said.

Nor without change.

“You used to hide your TV set,” Stan said. “Now you want to show them off.”

“The big, ornate dining sets have gone more towards casual,” said Loni.

“The biggest change we’ve seen (is that) people are buying more frequently and paying more attention to current styles,” said Scott.

Another change has Jacob spending 45 minutes each day checking and updating social media.

With a family motto of “Persistence,” Stan said the store has operated under the axiom, “Take care of your staff and they’ll take care of the clients.

“I’m just happy that the family’s still speaking to each other,” he said.

And the fifth generation is only a few years away.

That’s Harvey, Jacob’s son, 2½, and his daughter, Leona, born a week ago Friday.

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